Martynas Levickis

Martynas

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The boyish-looking Lithuanian accordionist Martynas Levickis, who goes by the single name Martynas, has set out to reestablish the accordion's credibility. He does that and then some. Martynas' basic frame of reference is the strolling Middle European café accordionist of a century ago: there are Hungarian dances, opera tunes, folk pieces, and Hava Nagila. But the accordionist's repertoire has been updated to include Tom Waits, Lady Gaga ("Telephone"), and Katy Perry ("Hot N Cold"): Martynas' ambitions seem to reach high enough that he wanted an even-handed treatment of the two reigning pop divas. Then on top of that come pieces that seem preposterous when mentioned in connection with an accordion: the second movment of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, and, most preposterously of all, the first movement of the "Winter" concerto from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. What makes all this feasible is that Martynas, who started out on the television show Lithuania's Got Talent, as is formidable as an arranger as he is as a player; in the Vivaldi he is playing the role of a good deal of the orchestra as well as of soloist, and the small ensemble accompanying him is deployed in such a way that the contemporary pop rhythms seem to flow naturally out of the tangos and Eastern European dances of yore. The bottom line is that this is a tremendous amount of fun, and if you think you don't like accordions, think again.

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